Settling in to the warmer months means, for many, abandoning the heat of the indoor kitchen for outdoor cooking and summer soirees. Whether you’re cooking for a party of one or two, or for a crowd, having the right outdoor grill can make a big difference.
We consulted with PBS/WYES Chef Kevin Belton, celebrity food educator and co-author of the new book “Kevin Belton’s New Orleans Kitchen,” about the best options for grilling and chilling this summer. Belton selected three options for cooking for a variety of gatherings, but stressed one important side note for all grill masters:
“No matter what grill you cook on, it is important to understand the technique of cooking over an open flame,” he says. “The best investment to any grill is a cooking thermometer since most folks overcook their food. Prepared right, food is smoky, moist and delicious.”
Happy grilling equals happy eating. Here are Chef Belton’s top grill picks for firing up the best summer eats, and beyond.
$30 to $50
Portable charcoal grill for grilling up with friends: “For a simple but effective grill that is portable, I like the Weber Smokey Joe,” says Belton. “When I want to grill fast and simple like burgers, dogs or chicken, this is my go to. Plus, it’s portable.”
$150 to $250
Crowd-pleasing three-burner propane gas grill: “The Char-Griller Grillin Pro is my go-to for a party and especially steaks,” Belton says. “One of my favorite things to do is turn on all the burners and close the lid and allow the temperature to get close to 600 degrees. This allows me to sear steaks for just about two minutes on each side. The side burner also allows you to work a sauce while food cooks on the grill.”
$2,000 to $3,000
Near restaurant quality
Six-burner luxury gas grill with all the bells and whistles: “The Formula One of grills for me is the Weber Summit S-670,” Belton says. “Besides having a sear area, side burners and smoker box, it’s the rotisserie that’s really neat. There is a place that catches all the juices as the food cooks which creates smoke to flavor what’s on the rotisserie. There are also lights in the handle that shine down on the grill when it’s open for night cooking.”
For the Cookbook collection
“Kevin Belton’s New Orleans Kitchen,” Chef Belton’s second cookbook, offers a glimpse inside the popular PBS chef’s own family kitchen. From Vietnamese flavors, a celebration of Plaquemines Parish citrus and a chapter based on his love of the Louisiana pecan, Chef Belton offers home cooks a recipe tour of Louisiana’s culinary best.